As I am getting ready to premiere my new web tv/radio show, Reel Hollywood Live, I have been asked a lot lately who my favorite star interviews were. I have given it some thought, and here are my Top 5:
#5 RUSSELL CROWE
I had not seen any of Russell Crowe’s work when I sat down with him the first time (before Oscar nominations) and had no idea that he was willing to play with me. An actor who willing to play in an interview is very rare as they are going to face the press on a junket at least 50 times so it’s better to just answer the questions and get through it. My questions were a little from left field and he had a field day with me more than once. But my most memorable interview came on the press junket for Cinderella Man, he came at 6pm for a noon interview slot and I was so nervous so I changed my questions while I waited to see if he would appear. Whatever was going on ̶ he did not take it out on me ̶ he gave me everything I wanted and more. Oh, by the way, later that night he threw the phone at the desk clerk, thank God, I was on my way back to LA.
#4 ANGELINA JOLIE
I was over-the-moon to interview Angelina Jolie, many times, and she is not only beautiful, but candid and kind. I really like private moments from a star, and when this happens, they are my favorite forever. It’s the stars that let you see their humanness that I really adore. You will notice her different hair styles as some interviews were done on film sets. One in particular, was at 2:30 am during a night shoot. Film shoot interviews are actually the most difficult, because the most thing to be done is to shoot the film, and the press interviews have to be squeezed in. Over the years she got more and more comfortable with me and more revealing.
#3 JOHNNY DEPP
I must admit that I had preconceived ideas about interviewing Johnny Depp. My research told me he was a wild one , so I thought I was wasting my time. Boy, was I wrong! I was completely taken aback when I got a charming, revealing and candid interview from this Hollywood “bad boy”. What surprised me was how open he was to all my questions, some of which were very personal. I was leaving the interview suite when a gentleman stopped me and said “he really likes you”. I said, “how do you know” and he replied, “he never tells those stories in press interviews.” He is one my favorite interviews for giving me a small part of who he really is, which so many stars refuse to do.
#2 MERYL STREEP
I was on the film set of Ironweed ready to do my video interview with Meryl Streep. Meryl was not properly informed of the details of the interview, and when she arrived with wet hair, glasses and no makeup, I nearly fainted because this was an interview that would play all over the world. I couldn’t do it to her. I said “this is not fair to you. This interview will last a long time,” and she agreed, but her shooting schedule was so tight that I left upstate with no interview. I was thrilled to be given a second chance for that interview, which took place at her hotel in New York City. Using her favorite hair and makeup artist, Roy Holland, (who won an Oscar for turning Meryl into Margret Thatcher) she was ready. She looked beautiful and felt comfortable enough to reveal some interesting stories found in this interview. What happened to the interview once it was done can be found in my book Nearly Famous: tales from the Hollywood trenches.
# 1 HARRISON FORD
Whenever I am asked which star is my favorite interview, I always pick Harrison Ford. Interestingly enough, he is the most difficult, not because he is mean or anything like that, but because he is shy. I like a challenge. I failed my first interview with him on the film Star Wars because my questions were wrong ̶ I only used studio production notes. When my next chance came I was ready, spending days doing research. The words that changed this interview were “Don’t worry about the questions, I know all the answers,” and then Harrison realized that I did my homework, and that he did know all the answers.
So now you know who my real, or should I say “Reel”, favorites are. It’s amazing to me every time I sit down with an actor and they reveal authentic, candid and touching moments that remind of us that we’re really all the same.
Don’t forget to join me for the premiere show of ‘Reel Hollywood Live with Ben & Reba’, June 2nd, Tuesdays at 1pm PT, on UBN Radio, Channel 1.